Academic Year 2010-11
Effectiveness of Software Sustainment
By Steven Cooper
Government leaders’ policy decisions can significantly impact the acquisition of weapon systems for warfighters. Two such decisions were made in 1998 and 2004 within the U.S. Army. While these decisions may impact system acquisition, they can also affect important sub-elements of the acquisition process, such as sustainment support of software operating within systems. This study researched software sustainment support within the Army Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Sustainment, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) community following enactment of these two acquisition policy decisions. Specifically, the study researched the perception of user/operators, Program Executive Officer/Program Manager (PEO/PM) and software sustainment support activity (SSSA) personnel about the quality, cost, timeliness, and thoroughness of software support before and after these two policy decisions. The study also assessed differences in the perception of software support within different sectors of the C4ISR community.
Constrained by limited response to the research survey, the study results were based on a very small sample of the Army C4ISR community. The study was also unable to control other factors that could have influenced perception of software sustainment support. Within these constraints, the study indicates that, in general, perceptions of software sustainment support are the same or have only lightly improved since the two policy decisions. However, various sectors of the Army C4ISR community have different ideas about which aspects of software sustainment support should be further improved. While most PEO/PM personnel believe improvements are required in areas of the timeliness of software upgrades and system accreditation, most SSSA personnel believe improvements are required in the cost of field software support. More..
Linking Strategy and Execution at the Army Developmental Test Command
By Raymond Fontaine
An organization needs a well-planned strategy to guide and direct the successful execution of its mission. The President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) is the primary security strategy for the United States Government. The Department of Defense (DoD) then aligns its National Defense Strategy with it. Similarly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff align the National Military Strategy with the NSS. This top-down synchronization cascades through the layers within the DoD and expands horizontally. Given the number of developing strategies, there is significant potential for overlap and inefficiencies. Therefore, strategies for the multitude of DoD organizations must be clearly synchronized to allow all the organization to execute its missions effectively and efficiently.
In addition to proper strategy development, measurement of performance is fundamental to an effective organization for comparison with strategic goals. This was acknowledged by the government over 17 years ago when the U.S. Congress and the President of the United States identified a deficiency in federal agencies’ abilities to link strategy and execution. As a result, they established the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), which mandates the use of strategic plans and annual reports on organizational performance. In January 2011, the current administration reinforced the need for outcome-oriented performance measures and more frequent reporting by enacting the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010.
This research uses the U.S. Army Developmental Test Command (DTC) as a case study to examine if existing performance measures are outcome-oriented, if the organization has internal links between strategy and execution, and if the strategy is aligned with external stakeholder goals. This research culminates in a recommendation to implement the Balanced Scorecard approach as well as recommendations for possible DTC performance measures. For full text, please email SSCFCNE@dau.mil
Impact of the ATEC Mentor Program on DAWIA Certification
By Stephanie Halcisak
In April 2010, Research Report 10-004 titled, “Mentoring of the Acquisition Workforce at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland,” examined mentoring of the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) workforce. In particular, the report investigated two principal questions. First, the report studied what scope, mentorship training, and key characteristics were necessary for an Aberdeen Proving Ground mentor program to improve acquisition and leadership training, education, experience, and succession planning. Second, the report explored the level of senior leadership support for a career mentoring program at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The report concluded that while there was a strong foundation of support for career mentoring programs, it was unclear what form that career mentoring program should take. In addition, the report identified a key area of concern regarding the defense acquisition certification program. In particular, data relating to acquisition certification compliance indicated low certification compliance percentages of approximately 30 percent to 40 percent of the acquisition workforce not certified. This low compliance rate does not appear consistent with the overwhelming support from senior leaders for the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certification program. Determining this discrepancy is the basis of this project. Existing research will be examined and applied to the U.S. Army Evaluation Center (AEC) acquisition workforce which is a subcommand of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC).
While addressing a specific concern of previous research and adding to the body of knowledge concerning mentorship and certification compliance at the U.S. AEC, this report also will analyze interviews of ATEC Training Program managers to explore the discrepancy indicated in previous research regarding low certification compliance rates despite overwhelming senior leader support. Furthermore, recent guidance has been sent to AEC/ATEC employees stating that certification compliance will now be enforced with a minimum objective of 75 percent. The Commanding General (CG) of ATEC will scrutinize compliance and take action toward improving compliance rates.
This study will use a survey instrument/interview questionnaire to collect data from the AEC workforce to find out what knowledge its members have regarding AEC Mentorship/Career Development Program, acquisition certification requirements, their current level of certification, if they are in compliance (correct certification level for current position), and what obstacles exist in obtaining certification in their respective career field, whether they have an Individual Development Plan (IDP), and whether they meet their annual continuous learning point (CLP) requirements, etc. For many individuals within the organization, I would suspect that overwhelming workloads (Rapid Acquisition Initiatives/GWOT acquisition efforts that have been prevalent since 2003 and the numerous other mandatory annual training requirements) are factors in not meeting certification compliance.
An overwhelming workload may also prevent adequate time for online and resident training, rather than inadequate mentor training, resulting in certification delinquency. This researcher also will review the current AEC Mentor/Career Development Training program to examine the level of guidance provided regarding program certification, timelines, and process to take courses and apply for certification. While all employees are required to prepare and maintain an IDP upon employment and the mentor program provides guidance, if the individual does not pursue certification, it is unclear if all supervisors enforce compliance or make it a part of an individual’s annual performance appraisal. Certification may be viewed as time taken away from supporting critical acquisition programs. However, being certified is a critical function of supporting acquisition programs. More..
The Use of Succession Planning to Prepare Future Leaders in Selected Federal Agencies at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD
By Raj Malhotra
The importance of succession planning is well known in industry and in the armed forces. It provides a venue for an orderly transition of command and control responsibilities to a designated person who is preselected and groomed to take on higher responsibilities with minimal to no disruption of ongoing operations in case the incumbent leaves his/her position. There is a significant amount of literature available on this topic listing the importance of succession planning and of how, who and when to do it. The literature lists the benefits of succession planning and the best way of how to execute it. Because of its high importance it gets covered in management school extensively. Despite its high importance and extensive coverage, many organizations still lag behind in developing and/or in executing their succession plans.
Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG in Maryland is a very large army installation with 43 major organizations and 28 suborganizations as tenants (Garrison, APG, Jan. 20, 2011). Some of the organizations located at APG have their headquarters here while their support offices are located in other states and overseas. Most of these organizations manage a significant amount of acquisition related projects. Because of the diversity of their missions and functions, as well as the projected shortage of acquisition related funding in future years, it is essential for these organizations to have a well developed and executed succession plan for a smooth transition of leadership.
This study was conducted to determine whether selected federal agencies at APG have succession plans in place to identify and prepare their talented employees for future senior level positions. Data for the study was obtained through both written surveys and interviews of key personnel of select federal agencies at APG between Feb. 16 and March 14, 2011. Agencies that participated in the survey were selected at random with a single criterion that they employ a large number of people. A key finding from the survey was that none of the participating agencies had any type of formal succession plan in place because of several reasons. Most of them, however, recognized the importance of succession planning and were following informal processes to prepare their key personnel for senior level positions in their organizations. More..
Far 13.5 Acquisition Streamlining: Observations and Recommendations for the Defense Logistics Agency
By Daniel Shearer
This study leveraged the published work of Cory E. Yoder, CDR, U.S. Navy, Ret., “Getting the Most from Acquisition Reforms: FAR 13.5 Test Provision for Simplified Acquisition Procedures, Commercial-item Acquisition” for the purposes of making observations and recommendations for the Defense Logistics Agency. The Acquisition Chair at the Naval Postgraduate School sponsored CDR Yoder’s paper, which was published in December 2006.
This study evaluated the foundational intent of acquisition reform compared to the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) performance in utilizing the streamlined procedures afforded under FAR 13.5 in current years, namely 2009 and 2010. Hypothesis: DLA underutilized the simplified procedures afforded under FAR 13.5, which resulted in longer procurement lead times than could have been achieved otherwise. More..
Assessment of a Strategic Partnership between the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and the U.S. Army Developmental Test Command
By Dennis Teefy
There are thousands of books, articles, and theories based on organizational management and growth. This research paper takes two of the hundreds of documented planning techniques to identify opportunities and issues facing a partnership between the U.S. Army Developmental Test Command (DTC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate.
On the surface, the potential for cooperation and teaming seems straightforward and logical. DHS S&T has technology testing needs to support its acquisition programs, and DTC has established test facilities and workforce already meeting similar needs for the U.S. Army. Upon further inspection, the issue requires the evaluation of two problems: (1) Is it possible? (2) How to make it happen. This research paper focuses solely on the first problem. To answer if it is possible, this research paper uses two approaches. First, a comparison is made between the technology needs of DHS S&T and the existing facilities, capability, experience, and personnel of DTC. Second, the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of the problem are evaluated from the perspective of both DHS S&T and DTC. This information provides the basis for senior leaders of the organizations to determine if the evidence is available to “make it happen.” More..
Fee and Profit: What is the Real Meaning? Business Understanding Can Lead to Better Contract Negotiaitons
By Randy Young
During Department of Defense (DoD) contract negotiations, fee becomes the primary metric for determining contractor profits. But does fee necessarily equate to “profit” where profit is defined in commercial terms as the net income for the company ? This paper addresses the following question: Is the fee in a contract the primary metric for determining contractor profits? A specific goal of this paper is to reduce the knowledge gap between the contractor and the government with respect to profit – in order to have better collaborative relationships with respect to the contracts.
The research uses financial management techniques and valuations to better understand the top-10 defense contractors. The analysis indentifies metrics that provide meaningful data to the government and how the government can interpret that data. Of the various metrics calculated in the financial analysis, the growth rates and profitability may provide the most relevant information to the government. These show interrelated factors relative to the health of the company.
Information is available for the government to gain a better understanding of the financial aspects of defense contracting. This information can aid the government in developing different strategies for each acquisition. The government and contractors can use this information to generate better dialogue between the parties. The research also identifies trends that may cause concern for the DoD over the long-term. Based on the research, additional questions have become apparent and recommendations are made for further study. More..